Bombay has one of the best harbors in the world. It is built on a small island covered with cocoa-nut groves.
Now let us compare these places with each other.
Calcutta boasts of her fine river, but then the ground is flat and marshy; and therefore the air is damp and unhealthy, and there are no grand prospects.
Madras is very dry, and sandy, and dusty; but then there is the sea to enliven and refresh it.
Bombay has the sea also, besides the groves, and at a little distance, high mountains, which look beautiful, and which it is delightful to visit. There are no such mountains near Calcutta or Madras.
These are the chief English cities. I must now speak of the favorite city of the Hindoos.
It is Benares on the Ganges.
You might go from Calcutta in a boat, and after sailing four hundred miles, you would reach Benares. The Hindoos say that it was built by their god Sheeva, of gold and precious stones; but that, as we are living in a bad time, it appears to be made of bricks and mud, though really very different. They say that Benares is eighty thousand steps nearer heaven than any other city, and that whoever dies there (even though he eat BEEF!) will go to heaven.
A missionary once reported a Hindoo for telling lies. The answer was, “Why, what of that? do I not live at Benares?” The man thought he was quite safe, however wicked he might be.
In walking about Benares a stranger might be surprised to meet every now and then a white bull, with a hump on its back, without a driver or a rider, or any one to keep it in order. You must know that a white bull is said to belong to the chief god of Benares, and it is considered a sacred animal, and is allowed to do as it pleases.
And how does it behave?
It behaves much in the same manner as a child would who had its own way. The white bull helps itself to the fruit and vegetables sold in the streets, and even to the sweetmeats. It has a great taste for flowers; and it cunningly hides itself near the doors of the temples, to watch for the people coming out with their garlands of marigolds round their necks. At these the bull eagerly snatches with its tongue, and swallows them in a moment. Finding it is petted by every one, it grows so bold, as to walk into the houses, and even to go up the stone stairs on to the roof, where it seems to enjoy the cool air, as it quietly chews the cud.
In the spring the white bulls like to wander out in the fields to eat the tender green grass. A farmer finding one of these bulls in his fields, made him get into a boat, and sent him by a man across the river Ganges. But the cunning creature came back in the evening; for he watched till he saw some people setting out in a boat, and then jumped in; and though the passengers tried to turn him out, he would stay there. In this way he got back to the cornfields.